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NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment
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The State Environmental Planning Policy (Vegetation in Non-Rural Areas) 2017 (Vegetation SEPP) sets the rules for the clearing of native vegetation in NSW on land zoned for urban and environmental purposes that is not linked to a development application.


The policy works with the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016 and the Local Land Services Act 2013 to provide the Land Management and Biodiversity Conservation (LMBC) framework across NSW.


The Vegetation SEPP ensures that if the clearing of native vegetation on land zoned for urban or environmental purposes exceeds entry thresholds the Biodiversity Offset Scheme will apply. The Vegetation SEPP also allows councils to manage vegetation clearing in their local area through a permit system.


The Vegetation SEPP was amended on 17 September 2021 to replace the transitional Clause 27 with a permanent framework for land clearing associated with routine agricultural activities. This enables landholders to go about their daily activities without the need for approval. It will commence on 18 December 2021. Until then, the temporary arrangements under Clause 27 continue to apply.


The updated framework includes 'allowable activities' that can be carried out on land being used for agriculture and zoned E2, E3, E4 and R5. The allowable activities will be available to landholders in Local Government Areas where the transitional clause 27 applied excluding Local Government Areas in Greater Sydney. Newcastle Local Government Area and land east of the M1 Motorway in the Central Coast Local Government Area are excluded. See the below link to the 'Allowable Clearing Map' showing where the new provisions apply.


The allowable activities on land zoned E3, E4 and R5 include:

  • constructing or maintaining
    • permanent boundary fences
    • farm access tracks
    • Private power lines
    • Planted native vegetation
    • Environmental protection works
  • Maintaining:
    • Electricity transmission infrastructure
    • Water supply and gas supply infrastructure
    • Telecommunications infrastructure
    • Permanent internal fences.


Allowable activities permitted on E2 zoned land, include:

  • Constructing and maintaining a permanent boundary fence
  • Maintaining an existing permanent internal fence,
  • Maintaining an existing farm access track.
  • Maintaining existing:
    • electricity transmission infrastructure (including private power lines),
    • water and gas supply infrastructure
    • telecommunications infrastructure


Higher risk allowable clearing of land

Some higher risk routine land management activities may be appropriate in the E3, E4 and R5 zones. We are reviewing this and working to expand the range of allowable activities available under the Vegetation SEPP.


The government intends to include the following allowable activities once guidelines have been developed to support these activities being carried out in a way that minimises risk to the environment.

  • Sustainable grazing
  • Clearing to remove imminent risk to life or property
  • Removing invasive native species
  • Native vegetation thinning


End of Transitional Clause 27

The Vegetation SEPP was introduced in 2017 and it contained a transitional provision (Clause 27). Clause 27 continues arrangements that existed under the Native Vegetation Act 2003 prior to the LMBC reforms commencing in 2017.


Clause 27 allows some land clearing without approval to ensure that agricultural land users could continue to operate effectively.


The clause applies where a council had previously selected to continue this arrangement via its Local Environmental Plan (LEP) on land zoned:

  • E2 Environmental Conservation
  • E3 Environmental Management
  • E4 Environmental Living
  • R5 Large Lot Residential


Clearing under Clause 27 will continue until 18 December 2021. On 18 December 2021 the permanent framework will commence.


More information

For more information about Vegetation SEPP 2021 you can:


View the policy on the NSW Legislation website.

Page last updated: 06/10/2021